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From depression to deep happiness

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Once a gentleman came to a doctor complaining that there was something severely wrong with him. He was hurting all over and was very sad but all the tests came out normal. The doctor said, “There is nothing wrong with you. Go to the circus and watch the clown there. He will make you laugh.” The gentleman said, “Doctor, I am that clown.”

It is one thing to entertain others and be humorous, but quite another to be happy yourself. Happiness does not come by a talent or skills that you develop. Unless you realize who you are, what the nature of consciousness is through your own introspection, happiness remains a far-fetched reality. The spirit of self enquiry in the true sense which leads to meditation is absolutely essential in this quest for happiness. The 6th century Indian philosopher and thinker Adi Shankaracharya has said that it is dispassion towards the ephemeral and connection with the eternal that brings true joy. In fact, he goes further and asks, ”What joy does detachment not bring?” The word for solitude in Sanskrit is ‘ekant’, meaning ‘the end of loneliness’. Loneliness cannot end by changing company, even if it is more sympathetic and understanding. It can only end when you discover your real nature for yourself.

Robin Williams, though he made millions of people laugh, could not end the deep seated loneliness inside him. This shows clearly that only spiritual solace can take you out of despair and misery. External pomp and show, wealth, admiration and adulation are not helpful in dealing with inner discontent. While alive, he made people laugh and in his death, he gave people a message to lift their eyes above the mundane towards something higher. You can bid goodbye to misery by connecting with an altogether different dimension, that I would say is solidified silence, a bolt of bliss and a glimpse of eternity, which is in you as you. You simply have to tap into it.

There is little use in having a machine which you cannot operate without a manual. Spiritual knowledge is like the manual for life. Just like to drive a car, we have to learn how to operate the steering wheel, the clutch, the brake and so on, to move towards stability of the mind, we must know the basic principles about our life force energy. This is the whole science of pranayama. When our prana or life force keeps fluctuating, our mind also goes up and down through the roller coaster of emotions.

One cannot handle the mind from the level of the mind. It is for this reason that although counseling or psychiatry seems to help in the beginning, it is not able to provide a complete cure in the longer term. Just forcing positive thoughts on oneself is not enough and more often than not leads to a relapse. Medication like anti-depressants also seem to help only in the beginning and eventually make the person dependent on them rather than free him/her from the tendency.

This is where knowing the secret of breath can really transform lives. Breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya stabilize our life force and consequently the mind. The inner dimension unveiled by the practice of meditation deeply enriches us and its impact slowly spills over to all aspects of life. As prana rises in the body, one starts to feel a transformation as direct experience and not as a forced mental exercise. One starts becoming happier, creative and more in command of their mind and emotions.

Another thing that can be really helpful in coming out of depression is developing an attitude of service. Thinking ‘what can I do for society’, getting involved in a bigger cause shifts the whole focus of life and can take one out of the rut of ‘what about me’. Societies where values of service, sacrifice and community participation are ingrained do not have these issues of depression and suicides. The Sikh community is a great example of this.

Life is a combination of happiness and pain. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Having a broad perspective on life gives you the strength to move forward through painful times. Know that you are very much needed in this world. With all its infinite possibilities, this life is a gift for it can become a fountain of joy and happiness not just for oneself but for many others as well.


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